Crikey’s SackWatch continues apace (see the earlier installments here and here) with a spate of sackings, disappointing employment data and job surveys upping the pressure on the Senate to pass Kevin Rudd’s $42 billion stimulus package.

ANZ job ad data released this morning showed the number of advertisements had fallen for the ninth month in a row in January, adding to the grim picture for the slumping labour market. Last month’s 6.3% fall was a small improvement on December’s 10% drop, but has done little to allay fears. Yesterday, the Olivier Job Index recorded a 12.5% monthly fall over the same period.

On Thursday, official ABS data is expected to show an increase in unemployment from 4.5% to 4.7%. Add the underemployed into those figures and you’ve got the makings of a seious social catastrophe.

Tresury Secretary Ken Henry has warned that unemployment will rise to 7% by 2010, which would mean an extra 300,000 job losses. Henry told last week’s Senate Inquiry that the jobs situation had become critical and that without a substantial stimulus now, the labour market risked an imminent collapse. But economists have questioned the package’s impact on jobs, saying flagging global demand will have a much bigger say over hiring and firing.

Here’s a list of the drama unfolding on the frontline:

Ninemsn: Axed 5% of its staff or about 20 positions

Macquarie Bank: Confirmed 1,047 staff have been sacked since it began a job shedding program late last year

Harvey Norman: With five office supply stores shut and ten retail stores in the firing line, expect hundreds of layoffs. 45 jobs went when the Domayne store in Sydney’s Campbelltown closed.

GE Capital: Local interest-free finance and credit card specialist to cut 400 jobs, despite heavy courtside advertising at the Australian Open

Panasonic: 15,000 jobs hived off worldwide with local losses possible

News Corporation: Confirmed it will lay off staff in Australia as part of a global cost-cutting plan. Crikey had previously reported that News job losses would hit 800 in Australia, a figure denied by local lieutenant John Hartigan.

But just days later, Rupert Murdoch said the following when the company revealed a 42% earnings slide and $US8.4 billion asset write-down: “We are implementing rigorous cost-cutting across all operations and reducing head count where appropriate”.

On Friday, Margaret Simons reported global chief Rupert was “revising numbers” on Sydney’s Daily Telegraph after a casual newsroom stroll.

BlueScope Steel: 40 redundancies with 330 contractors from Transfield Services on strike

OneSteel: Significant job cuts are to follow after senior management team reduced from 12 to 8.

Incitec: Temporary job losses in the Moranbah community in Queensland as construction of new chemical plant delayed

Great Southern Limited: Albany-based agribusiness group has removed seven workers

WA timber industry: Job losses and business closures expected after state government refused to extend bailout funds.

MLC: 120 jobs to be lost or changed

Perpetual: 40 funds management roles gone

AMP: dismissed 300 staff by December last year.

AAMHatch: 11 staff reportedly sacked at the mining technology company

Riviera: Only 650 staff remain at the boat builder, down from 1200 employees last year.

Tourism industry: Two-thirds of tourism operators to cut their workforce as international visitors tail off, according to the Tourism & Transport Forum

Harvey Beef Abattoir: Western Australian’s biggest beef processor is reviewing operations in light of the GFC with its chief executive already on the outer

The United States of America: Figures out on Friday showed the number of jobless had reached a 17-year high with unemployment topping 7.6% in January with almost 11.6 million Americans now out of work. See the following graph (courtesy of Peter Martin) to see the true extent of the damage:

Have you been sacked? Send your tales of job cut woe to [email protected] with “sackwatch” in the subject field and we’ll keep the list updated as a handy HR reference point.

Peter Fray

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